Britain slammed in Lockerbie ‘charade’
Relatives of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing denounced the British government Tuesday, after learning more about London’s private contacts with Libya over the release of the only man convicted in the terrorist attack over Scotland that killed 190 Americans.
A confidential cable from the U.S. Embassy in London in 2008 reveals that Britain was concerned about its valuable business with the oil-rich North African nation if Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, died in a Scottish prison where he was serving a life sentence.
“It was some but not all of the Scottish politicians who let everyone down,” he added, referring to Scottish claims that his release was based only on “compassionate” grounds.
“As devious and manipulative as they were, however, they were not as bad as the British diplomats and officials who claimed to have no part in this decision but are now shown to be advisers to the Libyans one year before the actual release of the murderer.”
** FILE ** Abdel Baset al-Megrahi (Associated Press) more >
The cable from Richard LeBaron, the U.S. diplomat in charge of the embassy at the time, bluntly told the State Department, the Justice Department and other U.S. agencies of Britain’s concern over Libyan threats.
“The Libyans have told HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] that there will be ‘enormous repercussions’ for the [British]-Libyan bilateral relationship if Megrahi’s early release is not handled properly,” Mr. LeBaron wrote.
“This is the first time [the British government] has had to deal with a foreign policy issue under the new arrangement,” and it is “feeling its way forward, as are the Scottish,” he said.
“We need to find a channel for consultation and representation of U.S. government views on the matter to the Scottish government, should we wish to, while taking [British] equities into account,” he said.
Mr. LeBaron also revealed that the British Foreign Office advised Libyan officials on how to apply for a compassionate release from Scotland, noting that Scotland had “never before granted compassionate release to a foreign national.”
Another cable, which WikiLeaks released exclusively to the London newspaper, the Telegraph, quoted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi thanking Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Andrew, Britain’s trade envoy; and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for their “brave decision” to aid in al-Megrahi’s release from a life sentence in a Scottish prison.
Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie on Dec. 21, 1988, killing all 259 passengers and crew and 11 Scottish residents of the village.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.